SPPS’ Calming Spaces are designed to help students calm down and improve their mental health. Many students in St. Paul Public Schools have access to these unique spaces, which are called “calm-down spaces” by the district. Some schools have created their own names for these rooms, but the purpose remains the same – to help students feel less overwhelmed and improve their mental well-being.
Kathy Kimani, the director of school support for SPPS, described these spaces as a “time and space place” as she entered the serene atmosphere of Cherokee Heights Elementary School. The rooms are equipped with comfortable seating and headphones to help block out other school noises. Currently, there are 30 calming spaces spread throughout the district, allowing students to recharge whenever they need to.
Kimani acknowledges the toll that the pandemic has taken on students’ mental health. With nearly 30 years of experience in education, she has seen a real increase in young people struggling with anxiety and difficulty controlling their emotions. Without a clear and calm mind, learning becomes more challenging for students. That’s why the new calming spaces are so important for student success.
For decades, the district has partnered with local mental health professionals to support students, and this year is no exception. The Wilder Foundation is leading the charge in providing mental health therapists in schools, eliminating barriers to care. This partnership is beneficial because it allows therapists to connect with families at school, at home, and in the community, ensuring comprehensive support for children and their families.
Dr. Benita Amedee, from the Wilder Foundation, emphasizes the collaboration between mental health professionals, school social workers, school counselors, and educators to create a more welcoming school environment that promotes children’s success. Together, they work to identify changes that can be made to support students’ well-being.
In conclusion, SPPS’ Calming Spaces play a vital role in helping students calm down and improve their mental health. These spaces are designed to ease worries and provide a serene atmosphere for students to recharge. With the support of mental health professionals and partnerships with organizations like the Wilder Foundation, St. Paul Public Schools is dedicated to promoting a positive and supportive environment that prioritizes students’ well-being.